Semester Abroad students and staff

Faculty & Staff Resources

Leading an Education Abroad Program

Faculty-led education abroad programs make up a large percentage of the education abroad options available to UW-River Falls students; roughly 65% of the students who go abroad each year from UWRF do so on short-term programs led by UWRF faculty. Additionally, two of UWRF's "flagship" semester-length programs are run and led by UWRF faculty members. It may seem daunting to set up a program for the first time, but we've had decades of successful programs, happy students, and enriched faculty leaders. 

So how does one go about setting up a faculty-led education abroad program? That's an easy answer: contact the Office of International Education (OIE) to set up a meeting to speak with our professional staff. No matter what stage of the planning process you're in - ruminating on an idea, planning an itinerary, ready to recruit students - we can assist you with the process and make sure you're squared away on all of the processes and policies. We're here to help!

Contact Info:
Office of International Education
174 Rodli Hall

Jump to Forms & Resources related to faculty-led education abroad programming.

Frequently Asked Questions

In a nutshell, this type of program is created when faculty develop a course in their field in an international location that makes sense for the discipline and their expertise/interest. With the support of the OIE, the program leader then plans the logistics of the education abroad experience. Faculty-led education abroad options are as short as a Spring Break program, as long as a semester-length program, or somewhere in the middle with a J-Term program. That's the short version. For more details, please contact the Office of International Education to schedule a meeting with our professional staff.

There is a preference for active tenure-line faculty, but in some instances active instructional academic staff have been considered. Junior faculty members are especially encouraged to apply.

The policy for International Education and Globalization Programs and Activities (AP-01-203) includes policies related to faculty-led education abroad programming. Leader responsibilities, OIE responsibilities, student eligibility, and more are topics covered in the policy document.

There are two parts to setting up a new faculty-led education abroad program: 1) getting curricular approval for the academic portion of the course, and 2) working with the OIE to develop the programatic pieces. Start by setting up a meeting with staff from the Office of International Education. They'll be able to walk you through the whole process and answer any questions you may have. To see an overview of the process, check out the "Workflow for proposing/opening a program" and "Workflow for new education abroad course approval" documents under "Forms & Resources for Faculty-Led Programs" at the bottom of this page.

Whew, it's much easier to open a program the second (third, fourth...) time around! You'll still start by meeting with staff from the Office of International Education who will walk you through the process and help you adjust/amend the program and budget for a new year. To see an overview of the process, check out the "Workflow for proposing/opening a program" document under "Forms & Resources for Faculty-Led Programs" at the bottom of this page.

While the budget, fees, and logistics of the program are developed in conjunction with the OIE, the academic course part of a faculty-led program remains under the jurisdiction of the colleges. After a course has been approved as an education abroad course, it follows the regular course scheduling process of its home college. If you're using a special topics course (289, 389, etc.) for your program you can run it up to three times before the course will have to apply for its own designater in the curriculum. If your course already has its own designator then it just needs to be scheduled regularly. Please see the "Workflow for new education abroad course approval" and "Workflow for existing course education abroad approval" documents under "Forms and Resources for Faculty-Led Programs" at the bottom of this page for more info.

The academic component of faculty-led education abroad programs remains under the jurisdiction of the home department and college. All courses follow the regular campus curriculum approval process, with one small addition: they must go through the extra step of being vetted by the Faculty Senate International Programs Committee. For more information on the role of the International Programs Committee, please see the committee's section in the Faculty and Staff Handbook.

Most of our programs are small and are led by only one leader, but occasionally situations arise when more than one faculty leader would be desirable. It is encouraged to take other faculty/staff along as co-leaders for added support/assistance, as well as to provide a professional development opportunity, and as a way to further internationalize the campus. The additional program leader(s) must be able to assume the responsibilities of the first program leader should the situation require. Salary/fringes and expenses for a co-leader will not be allowed for programs of less than 15 participants, unless an exception is granted by the Assistant Vice Chancellor for International Education.  Two leaders are encouraged for trips of 16-35 students, three leaders for 36-50, and so on. Requests for exception must demonstrate a clear rationale, such as programmatic/curricular and/or safety/security reasons. The additional program leaders must be adequately trained and able to assume the responsibilities of the first program leader should the situation require.

Please contact the Assistant Vice Chancellor for International Education in the Office of International Education to discuss your specific situation. Generally speaking, family members cannot be compensated as co-leaders or have their expenses covered by the program fees.

Faculty leaders are compensated as outlined in the Faculty and Staff Handbook, Section 5: Compensation Procedures and Issues ( Compensation for Short Term Study Abroad Faculty), adjusted to take into account any pay plan(s) approved for campus. For programs with two or more leaders, compensation must be negotiated with the Assistant Vice Chancellor for International Education.

Learning objectives, no. Learning outcomes remain under the jurisdiction of individual departments, colleges, and the university curriculum approval process. That said, because studying abroad introduces an entirely new environment and global learning opportunities, the OIE (in conjunction with Faculty Senate International Programs Committee) developed some suggested Experiential Outcomes as a way to foster global self-awareness, cultural diversity appreciation, and personal and social responsibility. You can read more about these outcomes and some example assessment tools by looking for "Experiential Outcomes" in the "Forms and Resources for Faculty-Led Programs" section at the bottom of this page.

A faculty-led program's viability depends upon the recruitment of enough students in order to meet the expense requirements; education abroad has to be entirely self-sustaining, and funds to cover program budget shortages from other sources are unavailable. So, effective marketing and recruiting strategies are extremely important! Here are some suggestions:

  1. Talk with your current students and advisees, especially if your education abroad program could meet an academic need. Direct recommendations and personal connections are effective in garnering interest in students.
  2. Have University Communications design a professional poster for your program. It's a free design service, so your program will only need to cover the cost of printing. The OIE can hang posters up around campus for you - we have about 40 approved hanging locations, including in the residence halls - so you can have the posters sent directly to our office. Use the Education Abroad Poster Request form, located at the bottom of this page under Forms & Resources, to get the process started.
  3. Utilize additional forms of media. If you use University Communications to design a poster, request that they also create an AxisTV slide and a social media (low-res, scaled down to fit on Facebook, etc.) version of the design. Send those to the OIE and we'll be able to help you promote your program on TVs in the University Center and in the residence halls, plus on our social media sites.
  4. Hold an informational session (or more). Sometimes students just want more info, and they want to connect an actual human being with a name on a poster. Let the OIE know when/where you are going to hold an informational session and we'll help promote it. We can also attend your sessions, should you so desire, to help answer questions about the education abroad process.
  5. If your program is open to students from other institutions, reach out to colleagues and ask them to share the opportunity with their students.

Yes, indeed. Faculty traveling abroad with student groups are covered by the same accident/medical/evacuation insurance policy as students (currently Cultural Insurance Services International), with the cost charged to the program. Policy information is available here. Although faculty are also covered by Europ Assistance, coverage by CISI allows faculty to receive service from the same providers as students should an occasion arise.

If the change is something minor along the lines of changing the term (from J-Term to Summer, for instance) for when the program is offered, as long as the duration/credits remain the same then you only need to work with the Office of International Education to make the change. If you plan to make a substantive change to your program that would impact the academic component – adding/changing curricular elements, major duration shifts, etc. – then the proposed amendment(s) would need to be reviewed by the Faculty Senate International Programs Committee (IPC) again. Please contact the Chair of IPC to be included on the agenda.

Forms & Resources for Faculty-Led Programs:

Additional International Resources: